Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesTop House Dem calls Trump ‘grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.’ Top Judiciary Republican sees potential for bipartisan agreement on cyber issues Black Caucus sees power grow with new Democratic majority MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that his calling President TrumpDonald John TrumpCoast Guard chief: ‘Unacceptable’ that service members must rely on food pantries, donations amid shutdown Dem lawmaker apologizes after saying it’s never been legal in US to force people to work for free Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing MORE “the grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.” was not a literal description, but a reflection of the president’s record of “racially insensitive” behavior, a record that the congressman says extends past Trump’s time in the White House.
“Of course I don’t believe the president is a card-carrying member of the KKK, but it did capture a troubling pattern of racially insensitive and outrageous at times behavior that spans not months, not years, but decades,” Jeffries said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, noted that he did not call Trump a racist in his comments at the National Action Network’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and that he has in the past refrained from doing so.
“[Trump] has presided over and engaged in a series of racially insensitive remarks,” Jeffries said. “We cannot whitewash that. We cannot hide it. And on King Day, we should be able to have that candid discussion.”
“Hopefully we’ll see better behavior,” Jeffries added, expressing optimism Trump will work to unite the country.
“I do not believe that the President is a card-carrying member of the KKK, but he has presided and engaged in directly a series of racially insensitive remarks,” @RepJeffries says about calling President Trump “Grand Wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” https://t.co/FJ4U0s8Wqx pic.twitter.com/gixPDnnjQb
— New Day (@NewDay) January 23, 2019
Jeffries has often been a vocal and fierce critic of the president and has previously decried Trump’s comments on race. Jeffries has said Trump fans the “flames of racial hatred” and has called the president a “racial arsonist.”
The president has reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries,” said “both sides” were to blame for violence at a white nationalist rally in 2017 and for many years pushed the false conspiracy theory that former President Obama was not born in the U.S.
During his time as president, Trump has emphasized economic improvements he says have been brought to African-Americans and other minority communities during his time in the White House. He has also regularly touted how well he has done with those communities in polls.